Thailand is a country famous for its beaches, bars, culture, hospitality and, obviously, its food. Thai cuisine is one of the most famous in the world. In fact, when CNN asked its readers to pick the world’s 50 best foods, seven Thai dishes made it to the list – the maximum from any country.
I recently spent almost a week in Thailand and had a different Thai dish every day for every meal. I have tried Thai food before too, but honestly, we cannot realize how amazing it really is until you eat it in Thailand. I kept wondering how long it’d take before I got bored, but that day never came. Even today, I’d give anything to go back to that small eatery by the Gulf of Thailand and have that extremely hot and spicy Kaeng Pa (jungle curry) again.
Basically, what I’m saying is that you can never get enough of Thai cuisine because of the variety and because almost all Thai dishes taste so darn good. Out of all the dishes I tried in that one week, here are 11 which you can’t miss out on when you visit Thailand:
1. Green Chicken Curry (Gaeng Keow Wan Kai)
Thai green curry is a lovely dish, especially when you have it alongside another, spicier dish. The dish gets its green colour from green chillies but it is still considered a sweet Thai curry. Not because of its taste (it is mildly spicy, though that can always vary), but because of its light green colour.
2. Tom Yum
This is one of the most famous Thai soups which is made of a broth containing basic Thai herbs and any variety of seafood (or chicken) like shrimps, prawns or fish. Some other name variants are Tom Yum Goong (with prawns), Tom Yum Pla (with fish) and Tom Yum Po Taek (all seafood).
3. Thai-style Fried Noodles (Phad Thai)
This dish takes noodles to a whole new level. It is made by stir-frying soaked rice noodles with eggs and tofu, and adding shrimps, fish sauce, tamarind pulp, red chilli peppers and other flavouring ingredients to that.
4. Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)
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This is heaven for all vegetarians. In a land where seafood dominates the cuisine, it can get really hard to find good vegetarian food. In Thailand, Papaya Salad can come to your rescue. It is made from raw papaya and is spicy and refreshing – the perfect start to any day in Thailand. And for all the die hard non-vegetarians, you can always look around for its non-veg version.
5. Chicken in Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Kai)
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This is another really famous Thai soup which is a milder version of Tom Yum. Unlike its hot and spicy cousin, this is mild and creamy – perfect for those who don’t like their food too spicy.
6. Fried Rice (Khao Pad)
This is the ultimate Thai comfort dish. When you want to take a break from all the curries, soups and spices, have this. The beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity – it is basic, but it is still great.
7. Chicken with Cashew Nuts (Kai Med Ma Muang)
I have loved cashews since I was a child, so the idea of combining roasted cashews with chicken and Thai flavours seemed really fascinating to me. Eventually, my folks and I ended up having two servings of this, so that explains a lot.
8. Fried Basil and Chicken (Pad Kra Pao Gai)
This one is a classic Thai-style “one dish” meal. If (may God forbid) nothing else on the menu appeals to you, just close your eyes and go for this dish. It won’t let you down.
9. Red Curry (Gaeng Daeng)
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This is green curry’s fiery elder sister. Like green curry, its colour is also derived from chillies – but red chillies this time. This rich and fragrant dish will surely get your tastebuds tingling and before you know it, you’ll be coming back for more.
10. Thai Omelette (Khai Jiao)
Simple, yet appealing, this is just a Thai twist to your classic breakfast – the omelette. Thai-style omelette is different from classic omelettes as it is soft and cloudy at the centre with crispy edges, eaten along with rice and Sriracha sauce. Once you try it and fall in love with it, you can learn how to make one too as the recipe is pretty simple.
Another quite interesting aspect of this variation is the seafood omelette – which is basically omelette with minced (or not, for some) shrimps, crabs and other kinds of seafood.
11. Jungle Curry (Kaeng Pa)
Last but definitely not least – jungle curry. Let me just say you haven’t tasted the real herbs and spices in Thai food unless a curry has made your eyes and nose water, your ears hot, and your brain and body numb. This curry will do that job.
I mean it when I say that I haven’t had something this spicy my entire life, and I come from India which is known for its spicy food. This dish is so crazy; it’s a challenge for everyone who claims to love spicy food. I found out later that this is supposed to be the spiciest out of all Thai curries. I guess randomly ordering a dish from the menu got me lucky that day.